The Secret to Success

14 replies
DISCLAIMER: Let me start by saying, I am not looking for anyone to have a pity party for me. I just want answers about what can be done to improve my situation.

In 2010, I graduated with a degree in graphic design. I did a number of internships and (free) graphic design projects to build my portfolio. In addition, I started a small graphic design business (which failed after one year due to lack of paying clients). * Why: Most small businesses outsourced work to India via (odesk, elance, and other crowd sourcing sites. Therefore, they were not willing to pay me a liveable wage to do the same work. In addition, many hired me to do one project and then used it as a template to DIY all their future projects. Third, there are millions of designers all competing for the same jobs and I often got passed up for a different designer not because my designs were bad...

Throughout college and even during my job hunt, I worked a part-time retail job . From this retail job, I was able to land a contract mail room courier position with full-time benefits. I worked this job and continued to apply to graphic design , web design, copywriting, and marketing positions. There were over 30 interviews but all said that I did not have enough work experience and refused to hire me.(Yes, even after presenting a portfolio full of volunteer work...they didn't want volunteer work. They wanted to see how my designs helped increased revenue/ sales for x company).

The contract with my courier job ended in 2013 and I found myself without work. I decided to try starting a new business...this time focused on copy writing instead of graphic design. I went full force attending marketing events, handing out business cards, sending out sales letters, taking business owners to lunch, volunteering, going to meet-and-greets, blogging, giving out free eBooks, and putting ads on Craigslist. But, after several months of hard work, I only got 2 paid assignments. I got referrals but for unpaid spec projects...

All of the big businesses have marketing departments with a copywriter on staff. None of them wanted to hire me for projects because " its' already taken care of"... Advertising agency's and graphic design firms said that I didn't have enough experience and wouldn't hire me. Small businesses did not understand what a copywriter was and felt it was useless..."they can write for themselves."

I see freelance graphic designers, front-end web developers, copywriters all the time. I don't know how they do it.

My question to you is, what is the secret to making a living in a creative career? What am I doing wrong that's preventing me from landing projects?

Second question is, what other career options are available to people who have a creative background but who are unable to work in the creative field?
#blah #secret #success
  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    There is no secret

    All your questions can be answered by using the "Search" function here and any other forum you might stumble upon, as well as google. Once you have your basic roadmap down, then you can, and should, post more detailed questions

    al
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  • Profile picture of the author onSubie
    Originally Posted by simplytyped View Post

    (Yes, even after presenting a portfolio full of volunteer work...they didn't want volunteer work. They wanted to see how my designs helped increased revenue/ sales for x company).
    I went full force attending marketing events, handing out business cards, sending out sales letters, taking business owners to lunch, volunteering, going to meet-and-greets, blogging, giving out free eBooks, and putting ads on Craigslist. But, after several months of hard work, I only got 2 paid assignments. I got referrals but for unpaid spec projects...
    All of the big businesses have marketing departments with a copywriter on staff. None of them wanted to hire me for projects because " its' already taken care of"...
    Advertising agency's and graphic design firms said that I didn't have enough experience and wouldn't hire me. Small businesses did not understand what a copywriter was and felt it was useless..."they can write for themselves."
    As a copywriter your job is to write copy that sells. When you are doing your CV and portfolio you are selling yourself.

    If you are giving away your portfolio as "...samples from volunteer work..." then you are underselling and probably not making the best use of your copywriting skills to manage the message.

    If a small business does not understand what a copywriter was and feels they are useless then you have probably failed in your communication with them.

    Think of your CV/Portfolio as copywrite work you do to sell yourself and land a job. If you can't clearly sell yourself you may have problems selling Uber Widget 2.0.



    I see freelance graphic designers, front-end web developers, copywriters all the time. I don't know how they do it.
    They start with a job and gain lots of experience and make connections and learn the industry.

    When they have enough experience and contacts to support themselves they leave their "job" and start freelancing.

    Starting to freelance right away without experience or contacts is a more difficult (but not impossible) road.



    My question to you is, what is the secret to making a living in a creative career? What am I doing wrong that's preventing me from landing projects?

    Contacts. Contacts. Contacts.

    Especially if you rely on freelance work and referrals then B2B contacts and working your connections is very important.



    Second question is, what other career options are available to people who have a creative background but who are unable to work in the creative field?
    Managing teams of creative people.

    Creative people can be "finicky" and sometime difficult to deal with for "non creative" people.

    If you can connect with and manage creative people and make them productive then that is a valuable skill.
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    • Profile picture of the author simplytyped
      Thanks everyone for all of your input. You have helped me make an informed decision. Ive googled it and spent 5 years on forums trying to figure it out... Iv worked hard trying to make sales... But truth be told, im a great salesman and advocate for other businesses but just not for my own. I lack the connections and sales skills needed to make it in business for myself and/or get hired. If I was working in sales, I would have been fired long ago. The best thing to do is to cut losses and choose a different career. Thanks everyone for helping me make an informed decision. Best wishes
      & happy 2015.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeMiller
    You should look at your freelancing career as a complete business project and develop it as such: Decide whether you'd like to be a copywriter or a designer and focus on that one (preferably choose whichever you like more and are better at), choose a specific topic/niche (don't be just a designer, be a "website designer for restaurants" instead), brand yourself, create a strategy and start working on it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve B
      Creative types often find themselves in the "starving artist" mode when they strike out on their own . . . so your experience is not uncommon at all. You may see many others freelancing as copywriters, graphic artists, photographers, event planners, etc, but you don't know how many of them are freelancers by night and waiting tables during the day to pay their bills. I suspect there is a huge percentage of them that don't earn a full time living in their chosen career.

      Look for specific demand in the marketplace that you can fulfill. It may mean that you have to adjust your goals and ambitions in order to get a start. But the surest way to succeed online is to find critical demand and step in front of it with your proven solution. Sell to those with money in hand begging for someone to solve their problems or satisfy their desires.

      There will always be competition and it will get more intense over time so don't let the fact that others are already in your space keep you from carving out your own niche. Don't be a copycat, find a way to stand out from the crowd and be yourself with a unique business or offer.

      You title suggests you're looking for a secret that will automatically give you a profitable business. Forget that - no such secret exists even though many will try to sell your their secret to success.

      Spend some time here at the forum and be observant. You will soon begin to realize that setting up a profitable business requires that you make sacrifices and commit your time and energies to a long-term business perspective. Most newbies think the secrets are being withheld - when in reality, one of the biggest factors in profitable business is owner persistence and dedication over the long haul.

      The best to you,

      Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author apocalypsejay
    the secret to success? The truth? Become a freemason. Then they will network you up when you prove you can keep their occultic secrets lol.

    Just a joke, sorry (no sense of humor around here).

    Quitter's never succeed at anything. Learn the nautical term tact. It means moving forward even when the wind is blowing against you. You have to cut diagonally and if you do it right you can actually sail into the wind. Sometimes you will turn your boat over, but at least you tried. You seem to lack a burning desire. Learn to be relentless. If someone closes the front door to you then come through the back. If they close the back door then bust a window. Find a way, be a can do type person. Tap into your inner man and use more than just 10% of your brain. Be patient and persist.
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  • Profile picture of the author drewfioravanti
    Everyone one of your excuses as to why you didn't get whateer job are just shitty excuses. The reality as to why you didn't have success, get hired, or get paid jobs is the exact same in every one of the situations you posted about. And, until you fix it, you won't be successful at anything. So perhaps, it is the "secret to success":

    You didn't do a good enough job of proving your value to whoever was making the decision.

    There are plenty of people right here in the United States who make 6 figures doing every one of those jobs. Because they were able to prove their value, and then deliver.
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  • Profile picture of the author garyisonline
    Reading your reasons "Why" says volumes. India? Odesk? Livable Wage? Template for ALL of their future projects? They wanted to see how my designs helped increased revenue/ sales for x company? Oh the shame!

    "But, after several months of hard work, I only got 2 paid assignments. I got referrals but for unpaid spec projects..."

    C'mon! Several months....2 assigments? Impossible! Any sales person would have been fired after the first week of that nonsense.

    I have worked over 25 years for these same businesses....most of them don't even know what outsourcing is, let alone figure out how to do it. And SO MANY of them are LAY ZEE to the CORE and wouldn't lift a finger to save their own butts.

    So I know for a darn fact from experience, that if you were seriously "working hard" at running a REAL service business for these guys - you'd be beating them off of you with a stick...and it can be done blindfolded - and you'd be making plenty of money.

    That is UNLESS you are one of them...and from reading your defeated post blaming ghosts, that is exactly where I'm leaning. And for that reason I would save myself and find something COMPLETELY different to do BESIDES this.
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  • Profile picture of the author tristatemedia
    then get someone to market you , help from odesk. you haeva good skill. use it and make money
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  • Profile picture of the author Slade556
    If I could back in time to when I started I wish I could have told myself to stay more consistent. This line of work has so many distractions and it is so easy to lose time, and we all know time is money. I didn't get anywhere until I took a serious look at my successes and started focusing all my energy into increasing them. You may think you have no success to grow upon but if you look closely there is almost always something, even if it's simply a skill that you can provide others.
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  • Profile picture of the author drem
    Most small businesses outsourced work to India via (odesk, elance, and other crowd sourcing sites.
    Have you tried using sites like odesk or elance to find work? If that's where small businesses are looking, then that's where you should be. Yes, there are a lot of people who don't want to pay a living wage on freelance sites, but there are also many people (serious people) who are willing to pay very well for services. And it's a great way to build up your portfolio of paid work while networking.

    Making a living in a creative field can be really tough, but if you really love graphic design or copywriting, don't give up just yet!
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  • Profile picture of the author arnaudSP
    Hey SimplyTyped

    You should really watch this video:


    It might help you a lot.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rory Singh
    Originally Posted by simplytyped View Post

    DISCLAIMER: Let me start by saying, I am not looking for anyone to have a pity party for me. I just want answers about what can be done to improve my situation.

    My question to you is, what is the secret to making a living in a creative career? What am I doing wrong that's preventing me from landing projects?

    Second question is, what other career options are available to people who have a creative background but who are unable to work in the creative field?
    simplytyped, What ever you pursued in the past may have failed because you didn't follow through enough with any of them.

    You hit a wall or seeming road block and stopped 'dead' in your tracks.

    Why?

    Must be due to a poor belief in yourself or a belief that doesn't 'serve' you.

    When people face a road block (and there will always be one for any thing great!), the first thing they do is quit because they may 'believe' it's a sign from God or the universe that this thing won't work for you.

    All these problems stem from a simple belief.

    Does the universe really care about if you succeed or not?

    Chances are it doesn't.

    It will be up to you to keep on with what ever is in your hands [right now] and not stopping until you 'twist', turn and 'tweak' it until it starts working for you.

    No secret, just being a stubborn SOB!

    Persist!!!

    And keep persisting until this (1) thing starts working for you BEFORE quitting and looking for something shinier.
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